Sat, Jul 18, 2009 - Page 4 News List

Taipei 101 rejects plan to turn it into a Christmas tree

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

A foreign-invested company has proposed an ambitious campaign to market Taiwan to the world by turning its landmark Taipei 101 into the world's biggest Christmas tree. However, the idea was turned down by the building's management, citing safety and structural concerns.

“Although it's an impressive albeit crazy idea and the [company's] intention was good, it is not advisable to add structures on the facade of Taipei 101 because of safety concerns and structural limits,” Taipei 101 spokesman Michael Liu (劉家豪) said, adding that strong northeasterly monsoon winds that frequent the country during winter would make the project unfeasible.

Elias Ek, president of the telemarketing company Enspyre, said the idea came from a marketing competition his company held in April with the aim of promoting Taiwan. Three students from National Taiwan University and National Taiwan Normal University proposed turning the 509m-tall Taipei 101 into a Christmas tree by installing LED lighting on its facade, which would last much longer than the building's annual New Year's eve firework show.

“We want the whole world to know about Taiwan, and Christmas is something that everybody cares about, whether one is Christian or not,” said Ek, who is also co-chairman of the European Chamber of Commerce Taipei's small and medium-sized enterprises center. “Tapping into the whole Christmas theme, Taiwan will be able to really connect to people around the world.”

Ek said he also thought the idea was “crazy” at first, but after consulting companies such as Panasonic and Philips — which promised to provide technical support — he gained confidence that it was a feasible project and expressed hope that more local and foreign companies would support the proposal.

“This is a project that should be carried out and we are looking forward to getting it done,” Ek said, adding that the project would require about NT$400 million (US$12 million) in investment.

Although the cost is nearly 10 times the amount of Taipei 101's annual New Year's Eve fireworks display, which has become a major global attraction every year, the effect of the project will be much bigger, as it will last for 45 days from December to the middle of January, Ek said.

Moreover, as the world's top LED manufacturer and supplier, companies in Taiwan could use the project as an opportunity to demonstrate advances in the field to the world, he said.

Liu said the management appreciates the company's creative idea, but added that: “Like many crazy ideas we often receive, most cannot be put into practice as they lack an understanding of the building's structure.”

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